air dried ham curing time

Air dried cured Meat Techniques

air dried ham curing time

Postby bluemonkey » Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:49 pm

Just a quick question I was hoping someone could help with, I've planning on doing an air dried ham and I would like some advice on curing times. I'm using a boned 3kg hand of pork, skin on and about 2-3 inches thick. Thanks
bluemonkey
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Postby grisell » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:53 am

There are basically two ways of salting. The method often used by the industry in e.g. Italy is to bury the ham in lots of salt for a well defined time. The other method is to use the 'equilibrium method', i.e. to use a well defined amount of salt.

The first 'time' method requires testing, skill and experience as the salting time depends on the slaughtering method, the ham's fat/water ratio, temperature etc. It's of course more practical in the industry, but very difficult to succeed with for a beginner. A few days more or less in the salt will mean the difference between success and failure.

Thus, I recommend the equilibrium method. I always use it. I do like this:

I add 27 grams of dry, high quality sea salt including cure per kilo of meat with bone and 30 grams per kilo of boneless meat (that's 12 and 13.5 grams/lb, respectively). I also add some white sugar, about 5 g/kg - this is optional; but no spices. In addition to that amount, I rub the rind with wet salt. Then cure it for one week per inch thickness plus one week, turning regularly and removing excess liquid. For your ham with three inches thickness (better too long than too short), that would be 3+1 = 4 weeks of salting. After the prescribed time, the ham is brushed to remove residual salt (if any).

Then comes the 'resting' period. This is very important in order for the salt and cure to distribute evenly in the meat. The resting period lasts for one month for small hams, and two-three months for larger hams (let's say around one month per 5 kgs/10 lbs). The meat is turned frequently. In your case, the resting period would be at least a month. Again, better too long than too short.

The temperature during salting and resting should be close to 0 C/32 F. Some air exchange, but not much, is necessary.

After resting, I wash the ham in tepid water and wipe it dry. Then spray it with a mould culture and hang it to ferment for 2-3 days in 20 C/68 F and high humidity (some makers skip this fermentation step).

After that, I move it to the drying chamber. I dry to around 30% weight loss and then cover the exposed flesh with a paste made from lard, rice flour and salt. Then let it hang to mature for at least nine months more. It's ready to eat without maturing, but the flavour improves immensely with ageing. Some Spanish producers let their hams mature for three years.
André

I have a simple taste - I'm always satisfied with the best.
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Postby bluemonkey » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:44 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post such a detailed answer to my question, I'm now feeling a little more confident that I was heading in the right direction. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report in a few months time!
bluemonkey
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Postby grisell » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:11 pm

You are welcome! :) Please let us know how it's going.

- and welcome to the forum! :D
André

I have a simple taste - I'm always satisfied with the best.
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